Tag Archives: Margaret Mahy

A festival of letters to NZ children’s authors: letter in memory of Margaret Mahy



Dear Margaret Mahy,

I really do love your books and your poems.

My granny has a giant book of all of your stories.But my favourite two books are: The Witch in the Cherry Tree,  The Man Eating Shark. I really did like the part in the witch in the cherry tree when the witch smelt the cakes in the oven. Before I read that  book I didn’t know that witches liked cakes and colour.

I am so sorry you are not living any more and I wish you could of read this.

Best Wishes


Age:10  Year:6

Richmond Road School    

A festival of letters to NZ children’s authors: Poppy (10) writes a letter in memory of Margaret Mahy




A letter in memory of Margaret Mahy

You are the best author that I know. I nearly have all your books and I am still laughing about Mr.Whistler losing his ticket. I can relate to him (alot). Your playground is popular –  you probably don’t know it but that metal slide, everyone loves it. Especially the water park and all the fun activities.

I adore the funny stories and all the creativeness from you and your imagination. I will always think of you when I write.The books you have left behind, everyone is enjoying them.

Poppy T

Year 6 age 10

Fendalton Open Air School Christchurch


I am posting letters until March 30th! Festival of letters details here






What I love about Margaret Mahy and a wee challenge

9781775540229        97801405063030140554262014056327Xthumb_160160226234240the great white man eating shark

On Saturday morning, I woke up before the sun and for some reason I thought of all the reasons why I love the writing of Margaret Mahy.

She wrote to delight children, and if adults were delighted too (and yes they were!), that was a bonus.

She wanted to catch the ear and eye and imagination of the child; and how she did!

She didn’t stick to rules and regulations about what to write and how to write it.

Big words, delicious words, strange words, made-up words were IN!

Twisty sentences were IN!

Imagination was the Queen and good sounds were the King.

Repetition was IN!

Extraordinary things were IN!

Ordinary things were IN!

I sometimes wonder if her books would be published today as she was such a risk-taking, fun-loving, imagination-stretching, sound popping, WORD ADVENTURER.

I don’t know if such deliciously risky books get published now; books that break the model children’s book.

What I do know is Margaret Mahy is the author who has shaped me most as a writer.

She makes me want to do a little whoopy dance of joy to say thank you for such glorious poems and stories.

A Poetry Box Challenge: Write and tell me about one of your favourite authors and what you love about their writing.

DEADLINE for your Favourite Writer Challenge: Monday 21st November

Send to paulajoygreen@gmail.com. Include your name, year, age and name of school. You can include your teacher’s name and email. PLEASE say it’s for the Favourite Writer challenge.

I will post my favourites  and have a book prize for a student (Year 0 to Year 8).

Margaret Mahy’s adjectives SOUND good — so here’s a challenge for you!

9780140506303    9780140506303

The New Zealand Book Council has been on the hunt for New Zealand’s best loved book (a classic book). It will be announced at a special session at the Auckland Writers and Readers Festival in May.

I was invited to send in my pick and the first book that popped into my head was the book that stayed in my head for all kinds of reasons. I was OVER the MOON that I had picked a children’s author.

I picked Margaret Mahy‘s The Lion in the Meadow. They will post the reasons why, but I will tell you one thing. She is really good with adjectives in the book.

I love this repeating phrase: ‘a big, roaring, yellow, whiskery lion in the meadow’

Margaret would have PLAYED with these adjectives until she got them SOUNDING just right. How DELICIOUS they are to say out loud!


NOW your TURN!

Try writing a poem where you use a string of adjectives like Margaret has —  but you play with them first to get them sounding good. Maybe you repeat the line in your poem. You can pick a different animal or bird for your adjective line:

The ……….,   ………….,   …………..,  ……………….  cat


The ……….,   ………….,   …………..,  ……………….  owl


The ……….,   ………….,   …………..,  ……………….  elephant


The ……….,   ………….,   …………..,  ……………….  tiger

OR ANY ANIMAL or BIRD you like!

Once you are happy with your line use it in a poem (you can use it more than once)!


You can enter you list poem in the February sound-poem competition.

Deadline: February 27th

Send to paulajoygreen@gmail.com. Include your name, age, year and name of school. You may include your teacher’s name and email address.

I am posting my favourites and will have a book prize for one young poet.

Reading Festival: Competition number 3 for children and schools


To celebrate Margaret Mahy’s Dashing Dog book (with illustrations by Donovan Bixley),

I invite you to write a poem about a dog. Juicy words are welcome!

Thanks to HarperCollins I have a copy of the book to give to my favourite poem. I will post my favourites as they arrive and the winner will be announced on Friday November 29th.

Send to paulajoygreen@gmail.com. Include your name, age, year and name of school. Include your teacher’s name and email address if you can.

see my review of Margaret’s book here

Margaret Mahy’s Dashing Dog can swim


cv_dashing_dog   cv_dashing_dog  cv_dashing_dog

‘Dashing dog! Dashing dog! Oh, what a sight to see!

Cleaned up and curlicued! What a delight to be’

HarperCollins has published a new edition of Margaret Mahy‘s poem, Dashing Dog. There are bright and bouncy illustrations by Donovan Bixley and there is a CD of Margaret reading the poem.

The poem follows an excited dog and his family as they go for a walk on the beach.

The poem is Margaret at her most delicious, bounciest, dashingest, dartingest, dreamiest wordiest BEST!

The words  dance and dash and cavort on the page and in your ear.

Margaret uses lots of alliteration that hums like music: ‘Devil-dog-daring, and dog-about-townery’.

She uses glorious, big words that are chewy on your tongue: curlicued, perambulate, docile.

She makes up words that are strange and zany and perfect (often to fit her rhymes): sandified, drowndering, townery.

The rhythm catches the dash and dart and antics of the dog and his family on the beach perfectly and Margaret reads it so beautifully.

SO, to sum up, this is a fabulous poem that made me think of my dogs when we go to the beach and they get all drippy and zoomy and puffy and panty and licky and rolly and huggy and happy! It is a terrific book and would be great to read with someone else.

You could try writing your own big rollicking rompy dog poem! Send to paulajoygreen@gmail.com. Include your name, age, year and name of school. You can include the name and email of your teacher if you like.

NZ Post Children’s Book Awards

Book  awards can be nerve wracking times. My heart goes out to all those who didn’t get a gong and my delight goes out to all those who did. I was really impressed with the flurry of inventive activity that celebrated the shortlisted books throughout New Zealand. Bravo organisers!

I have read a number of the shortlisted books and I certainly had some favourites. Kate De Goldi generously answered some questions for Poetry Box ( May 19, 2013 — and I talked about what I loved about The ACB of Honora Lee). But I also loved Barbara Else‘s The Queen and the Nobody Boy. This is a book that is deliciously imaginative with exquisite detail. You enter the world of the book and you want to stay awhile! I really enjoyed Racheal King’s  Red Rock. This is like a beautifully written fable that is also grounded in the real world. David Hill‘s novel Mr Brother’s War won Best Junior Fiction and I was happy for David. His book takes you into the grip and guts of war in ways that are both complex and moving. It’s ages since I have read it — now I want to read it again ( I will publish one of David’s poems on Poetry Box sometime this year). I highly recommend all these books!

queen_0   my-brothers-war   whistler   melu-picture

AAhhh! Picture books. I love children’s picture books. And these two winners are heavenly. I have already flagged Mr Whistler on Poetry Box (March 28, 2013) — Gavin Bishop‘s lively illustrations and Margaret Mahy‘s brilliant story are a treat. This won best picture book. Later this year Kyle Mewburn is going to answer some questions for Poetry Box and I will share what I love abut his books. There is a poet lurking inside this fabulous storyteller that’s for sure. He knows what to do with words to make them sing and gleam. I was happy he won the children’s choice award. Well deserved!

A YA book won the top prize: ‘Ted Dawe’s book Into the River won the New Zealand Post Margaret Mahy Book of the Year and was also the winner of the Young Adult Fiction category.  This engaging coming of age novel follows its main protagonist from his childhood in small town rural New Zealand to an elite Auckland boarding school where he must forge his own way – including battling with his cultural identity.’

Simon Morton and Riria Hotere won Best Non-Fiction with 100 Amazing Tales from Aotearoa. Will have to get a copy of this!

100-tales in-the-river

Now all the authors can get back to the real world of writing and reading and visiting schools and cooking dinner and driving children to school and feeding dogs and cats and walking on the beach or in the bush or up mountains and flying in aeroplanes and riding bikes and catching ideas and trains and going to the library and bookshops and watching movies and answering the phone and sending emails and posting letters.